Shared Challenges by Physicians Around the World

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Wilson_edited-1 (14.01.13) One of the joys about being with one's colleagues from around the world, at least for me, is that I am constantly reassured by that contact that physicians as members of the profession of medicine share a common dedication to the care of their patients. I was reminded of that again today during the first sessions of the WMA/INSEAD Leadership Communications and Medical Advocacy Program here in Singapore.

As I reported in my most recent blog, attendees at this conference include 32 physicians from 20 countries. Having watched these young physician leaders today I can report that I was impressed by their engagement and their obvious interest in learning how to provide leadership in order to make healthcare in their countries better.

Part of the day's agenda included an opportunity for the attendees working in small groups to talk about particular concerns they have. It was striking that the concerns were similar regardless of the country or continent from which they come. It was also striking how long the list was.  I believe this is a reflection of the state of transition of healthcare systems around the world as governments seek to provide universal health care for their citizens in the face of rapidly rising costs of providing that care.

Following is that list of concerns in no particular order of priority:

1.     Assuring the qualifications of physicians

2.     The interface between public and private medicine and imbalances in supply of physicians and other health professionals

3.     The ability of medical associations to influence physicians and have a unified voice that is relevant

4.     Assuring patients do not have long waiting times to receive care

5.     A return to a holistic view of medicine that considers the patient as a person

6.     Concern about distribution of health care to rural areas

7.     The balance for physicians between pride in being a part of the profession and the responsibility that goes with being a physician

8.     Relationships between physicians and patients, governments, colleagues, other health professionals, the media, the public and other nonhealth professions

9.     How to achieve adequate public health funding

10. Better distribution of innovation in the science of medicine

11. Better exchange of knowledge

12. Issues around integration of foreign physicians and physician migration

13. The impact of expansion of for-profit medical schools

14. Varying definitions of informed consent in different countries

15. Encouraging physicians to expand their interests in the welfare of their communities

Long list

Common challenges

A lot of work to be done

Also, four more days of what promises to be a rewarding experience. I look forward to that.


WMA President Cecil. B. Wilson, MD travels around the world talking about the WMA's work representing the millions of physicians worldwide. Acting on behalf of patients and physicians, the WMA endeavors to achieve the highest possible standards of medical care, ethics, education and health related human rights for all people. This blog will chronicle these travels and important issues.